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ING Bank Is Bringing Bitcoin ‘Bulletproofs’ to Private Blockchains

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ING’s blockchain team is testing a privacy technology called “bulletproofs,” the latest in a series of seemingly unlikely cypherpunk experiments at the Netherlands-based global bank.

Developed and refined by hardcore cryptographers at Stanford University, University College London and startup Blockstream, bulletproofs are designed to hide the amounts being transferred in bitcoin transactions, which are normally visible to anyone. But banks have privacy concerns about blockchains too, since they don’t want to expose competitive or sensitive client data to rivals.

One early solution was zero-knowledge proofs (ZKPs), a way of proving possession of a secret without revealing the secret itself. Over the past year or so, ING has explored ZKP variants such as range proofs(where a hidden number is proven to be within a certain range) and zero-knowledge set membership(where alphanumeric data can be validated within a specified set).

But ZKPs eat up a lot of computation and so potentially slow down a blockchain. Now, ING sees bulletproofs as a much more efficient, therefore applicable, version of these proofs.

The bank found bulletproofs turn out to be “roughly ten times faster than other range proofs, for a single range proof,” said Mariana Gomez de la Villa, global head of ING’s blockchain program.

And when aggregated together these proving schemes gain efficiency. Gomez de la Villa gave the example of a cryptocurrency exchange using range proofs to show it has enough funds to pay all its clients if they want to withdraw their money at the same time.

In this case, “bulletproofs would allow a solution that is 300 times more efficient than other alternative range proofs,” she said.

While a lot of this stuff is academic, ING is now looking to where it can apply the tech. Potential uses touch on the need to obey the Europe Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR); for instance, ZK set membership can prove an individual belongs to a given EU member state without disclosing any other information about their identity.

Meanwhile, academics and cryptocurrency scientists seem encouraged, if a little bemused. Blockstream mathematician Andrew Poelstra told CoinDesk via email:

“When we developed bulletproofs in 2017, we did not expect such an uptake. We’re very excited and proud whenever we see the technology being applied to real world problems, if a little surprised its found a use-case in traditional banking!”

Trade and trolls

ING is also looking at applying ZKPs to the testing out of trade finance blockchains, an innovation which in turn looks ahead to a world of blockchain interoperability, said Gomez de la Villa.

“We are setting up a whole [ZKP] shop to help developers find these use cases and are in contact with some of our customers to ensure they have a good understanding of how they can leverage these open source projects that we have,” she said.

To illustrate how the bank’s blockchain projects might apply ZKPs, Gomez de la Villa said imagine tracking a commodity from its origin and keeping the certificate of origin throughout the supply chain but without disclosing the supplier, price or the quality of the commodity.

Looking ahead, this could involve that commodity touching several distributed ledger networks (interoperability is something ING is thinking about now, given the bank has close ties with R3, ethereum-based oil and gas consortium Komgo, and recently IBM’s MineHub on Hyperledger Fabric).

“We need to ensure that the specific properties of the commodity worth passing along the chain in terms of semantic (meaning and interpretation of the fields) and the syntactic (format and fields) remain intact,” said Gomez de la Villa, “and at the same time being able to hide the ones that do not need to be passed on along the value chain but still are useful to record for other purposes.”

Proving the bank has reached the highest levels in this field, ING takes part in the annual ZKProof Workshop alongside the team behind cryptocurrency zcash, Blockstream and QEDIT. The bank also said it compares notes with the likes of JPMorgan, another enterprise consumer of zero-knowledge cryptography, to help make the tech a reality for clients.

Gomez de la Villa said:

“Everybody helps each other, everybody bounces stuff with each other and the important thing is not what you have learned but it’s more like how do you apply those learnings.”

But not everybody likes the idea of a bank getting involved with technology seen as the reserve of privacy-driven libertarians for use on public blockchains. Gomez de la Villa said her social media has been trolled by certain people claiming the bank “just copy and pasted” the technology.

“There are people that are quite anarchist about it and they are obviously 100% pro-bitcoin and they believe that indeed they are doing all this to circumvent financial institutions,” she said.

However, Gomez de la Villa is unfazed by her trolls, concluding:

“I like it. Cause that means that it matters.”

 

source.nulltx.

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Survey Says Sell? Just 43% Believe ‘Golden Cross’ is Bullish for Bitcoin Price

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By CCN: Not everyone is convinced that Bitcoin’s highly-touted “golden cross” is a bullish signal for the world’s largest cryptocurrency.

ALMOST 25% OF CRYPTO INVESTORS BELIEVE GOLDEN CROSS IS BEARISH FOR BITCOIN

According to a Twitter survey conducted by crypto bull Thomas Lee, 24% of Crypto Twitter inhabitants believe that the signal, which typically hints at a bull run ahead, is a trap and that it is time to unload some Bitcoin. A golden cross occurs when a 50-day moving average crosses the 200-day moving average from under on the daily chart.

Being a typically-bullish signal, it did not come as a surprise for the largest number of respondents to say it is a good time to buy. However, it was not by a convincing margin. Only 43% of the respondents said the golden cross was a green light to purchase in anticipation of a imminent Bitcoin price rally.

MAJORITY OF BTC, XRP, AND ETH TRADERS ARE NET-LONG

Despite the survey, the formation of Bitcoin’s first golden cross since October 2015 has been greeted with excitement. Based on precedent, a bull run could be in the works. After the last golden cross, the bull run lasted until early 2018.

Sentiment has also turned bullish, and this is supported by factors other than technical analysis. Data compiled by forex exchange firm DailyFX also revealed that 81% of retail traders are now net-long bitcoin.

With altcoins, the percentage of retail traders who are net-long is even higher. About 97.7% of retail traders are net-long Ripple (XRP) while 92.2% are net-long Litecoin. Around 92.1% are net-long Ethereum.

BITCOIN PRICE DEFENDS $5,350 – CONFIRMATION OF A BULLISH TREND?

EToro Senior Market Analyst Mati Greenspan opines that a bull run has been confirmed. This is based on the fact that Bitcoin has broken the $5,350 resistance level, turning it into a new support area:

“Some people will want to wait until today’s close for confirmation but in my mind, this box is ticked. Following the extraordinary surge on April 2nd, many people were looking for some sort of continuation and now that we’ve broken the interim resistance of $5,350 it seems we have one.”

In some quarters though, the formation of the golden cross has been greeted with skepticism. Even in Lee’s survey, 19% indicated that they had no faith in technical analysis, calling it “voodoo.”

Source.ccn

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Altseason Already Over? Analysts Suggest Bitcoin (BTC) Will Outperform In Short-Term

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All eyes may be on Bitcoin (BTC), but other crypto assets have seen their fair share of gains since the start of 2019, sparking calls that what is known as “altseason” is here. This would seemingly be the case. Binance Coin recently surpassed its all-time high, in a brutal bear market no less, as Litecoin has rallied by over 200% since December’s low. Cardano, Ethereum, Tezos, and Basic Attention Token are among other prominent cryptocurrencies that have also seen jaw-dropping gains in the past 90 days.

And as Fundstrat’s Tom Lee explains, one of the “pre-conditions” for historical altcoin rallies has recently come to life in the current cycle. This precursor, for those unaware, is a drop in the correlation between the crypto asset class at large and Bitcoin itself.

Per Lee’s chart (seen below), which cites data from Bloomberg, CoinMarketCap, and his own firm, a drop in the rolling 90-day correlation between the two subsets has preceded three altseasons — Mar 2016, early-2017, and late-2017/early-2018. An altseason, as defined by Fundstrat, is when a large percentage of altcoins in the “liquid universe” rally by over 200% in a short period of time.

Funnily enough, however, the (pre-)altseason might already be over. On Wednesday, Bitcoin dominance hit 54.4%, the highest this figure has read since mid-December, when BTC was in the midst of the capitulation to the low $3,000s. This resurgence in Bitcoin’s market share came as a result of BTC’s ability to outperform smaller digital assets over the past week. For instance, BTC has lost 1.5% in the past 24 hours, but XRP, EOS, Stellar Lumens (XLM), and Tezos (XTZ) have all lost more than 5% of their value in the same time frame. And analysts expect for Bitcoin to outperform in the near future.

Bitcoin May Soon Outperform

Inmortal Technique, an industry commentator and trader, recently suggested that Bitcoin’s market dominance has broken past a declining trendline, all while altcoins’ market dominance has remained trap under a key resistance, indicating that BTC currently has the upper hand.

Speaking to Forbes, Mati Greenspan, the crypto-friendly markets analyst at eToro, has also suggested that BTC could continue to outperform. He simply stated that “Altseason is over,” meaning that Bitcoin could soon see an influx of buying pressure from investors looking to liquidate their altcoin positions. Jeff Dorman, the chief investment officer of Arca, echoed this:

“If you look back to early April, when BTC rose 25% in a day, every other digital asset rose as well. But, since that day, BTC has remained well bid while every other asset has slowly begun to decline due to a rotation out of ‘altcoins’ and into BTC.”

And according to AskMeHowToShort, a well-followed yet controversial analyst, this rotation out of altcoins might just be “bullish for Bitcoin.”

Source:ethereumworldnews

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Breaking: NY AG Alleges Bitcoin Exchange Misused Tether to Hide $850M

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By CCN: The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James has officially obtained a court order to request iFinex Inc, the operator of bitcoin exchange Bitfinex and Tether, to cease operations in New York.

The Attorney General’s office found that Bitfinex allegedly handed over $850 million in co-mingled client and corporate funds to Crypto Capital Corp, a company based in Panama.

Bitfinex is said to have never received the funds from the Panamanian firm, leading to the loss of more than $850 million.

The Attorney General’s office alleged Bitfinex granted itself access to Tether’s treasury and mismanaged $900 million of the stablecoin’s cash reserves to “hide” the loss of $850 million.

Attorney General James said:

“Our investigation has determined that the operators of the ‘Bitfinex’ trading platform, who also control the ‘Tether’ virtual currency, have engaged in a cover-up to hide the apparent loss of $850 million dollars of co-mingled client and corporate funds. New York state has led the way in requiring virtual currency businesses to operate according to the law. And we will continue to stand-up for investors and seek justice on their behalf when misled or cheated by any of these companies.”

HOW DID IT HAPPEN?

The core problem with Tether is that it does not issue public audits like strictly regulated stablecoins such as Gemini Dollar and Circle’s USDC. As a result, investors are unaware of what the potential “receivables” could be and the dealings of Tether.

A public audit would have forced Tether to disclose the alleged $900 million transactions initiated by Bitfinex had it been recorded on the financials of Tether Limited.

LACK OF PUBLIC AUDITS HAS ALWAYS BEEN A PROBLEM FOR TETHER

Since its creation in 2014, for more than five years, Tether has been a subject to consistent criticism from both investors and experts in the cryptocurrency sector for its lack of public audits.

Last month, CCN spoke to iFinex, the company that oversees Tether, about its new Terms of Service which read that every USDT is backed by cash and other receivables, but not 100% in cash.

“Every tether is always 100% backed by our reserves, which include traditional currency and cash equivalents and, from time to time, may include other assets and receivables from loans made by Tether to third parties, which may include affiliated entities (collectively, “reserves”),” the altered Terms of Service read.

Kasper Rasmussen, the director of marketing at iFinex, told CCN that Tether is still 100% backed even though it may include other assets.

“Tethers remain completely stable and 100% backed, so Tether’s reserves always equal or exceed the number of issued Tethers. The only change is that the composition of the assets that provide that backing includes a combination of cash, cash equivalents, and may also include other assets or receivables from loans issued by Tether,” Rasmussen said.

HOW DOES AFFECT BITCOIN?

Immediately after the release of the New York Attorney General’s report, the bitcoin price fell below $5,400, indicating a dip in the confidence of the crypto market.

Source.ccn

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